In what was an apparently pre-planned criminal act, a group of armed men used two watercraft to commit a store robbery on Little Cayman Tuesday afternoon.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police helicopter and marine units later tracked down at sea five suspects who made off from the island.
Around 1:10 p.m. police received a report that five men entered the Mini Mart in Blossom Village, Little Cayman. Police said “a number of the men” were armed with what appeared to be firearms.
A bank located next door to the mini mart was left alone by the robbers, but it was closed for business on Tuesday. The Little Cayman branch of the Cayman National Bank only opens on Mondays and Thursdays. Police said the suspects stole a cash pan from the store, ran off and boarded what has been described as a “fast vessel.” They then headed out to sea.
The RCIPS Air Operations and Marine Units mounted a search for the suspects’ boat Tuesday afternoon and subsequently located it and its occupants about 25 miles off East End in Grand Cayman around 3:30 p.m. The men were arrested and brought to Grand Cayman.
There were reports that customers inside the store were forced to lay on the floor during the heist. The Compass contacted store manager Kevin Myers for comment, but he said he was speaking with police officers at the time the newspaper contacted him.
According to Larry Foster, who watched the scene unfold from his house through a pair of binoculars, it appeared two boats were used in the heist. Mr. Foster said it appeared a larger “Jamaican canoe” was left at the reef offshore while a smaller panga boat was used to bring the suspects in to shore.
“I saw them transfer from the small boat to the larger boat at the reef,” Mr. Foster said. [*] Editor’s note
After the robbery, Mr. Foster said he witnessed the larger boat head off in the direction of Grand Cayman.
“People are still in shock [from the recent killing of Perry McLaughlin on Little Cayman],” Mr. Foster said. “It’s a sad thing to have a crime happen on Little Cayman, to take place on this little island …. Oh God.”
Crimes like robberies and homicides are extremely rare on Little Cayman, which boasts an average resident population of somewhere between 130-150 residents. According to other island residents, police recovered a small panga boat in the water shortly after the heist. It appeared there had been an effort to sink the boat, but police recovered it.
[*] Editor’s note: Quote changed to reflect the fact Mr. Foster saw the robbers embarking after the robbery occurred, not prior to the event.